Citing Maundy Thursday, Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council seeks change in poll date

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council has moved the Madras High Court seeking re-scheduling of the April 18 Lok Sabha elections and assembly bypolls in the state, saying the date clashed with Easter Triduum, a key religious event for Christians, and polling percentage may be affected.

In his petition, Madurai Archbishop and president of the bishops’ council Antony Pappusamy submitted that there were around 50 lakh Christians in the state and for them the Holy Week starts with the Palm Sunday on April 14 and culminates with Easter Sunday on April 21.

The election date coincided with Maundy Thursday, when the Last Supper takes place on the eve of crucifixion and death of Jesus on Good Friday, the petitioner submitted.

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter were called Holy Triduum (holy three days), he said, adding thousands of faithful will visit churches and prayers would continue throughout the night on these days.

Hence it may affect the turn out of voters, the petitioner said.

He also submitted that the Catholic Church was running around 2,800 schools in the state and most of them were used by the government as polling stations for any election. If the polling booths were located in the schools, it would restrict movement of people in the preceding days of polling.

The archbishop said the council had already submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission and there was no response.

There was an urgent need for rescheduling the polling date in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry from April 18, he said, and prayed the court to direct the Election Commission to change the schedule.

The petition is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday.

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